Shane Black says he takes full responsibility for casting a registered sex offender in his new film The Predator. Black - the co-writer and director of the newest installment in the Predator franchise - issued a lengthy statement on the casting controversy during a recent interview, after a flurry of press attention that was first triggered by cast member Olivia Munn.
The issue started when Black decided to cast his friend, actor Steven Wilder Striegel, in a small role within his Predator film, despite being aware of Striegel's status as a convicted sex offender. Munn - who is herself a survivor of past sexual harassment - found out about Striegel’s past and reported it to both her costars and 20th Century Fox, upset that the director didn't tell the rest of the cast about Striegel’s history. After the studio decided to cut the scene featuring Striegel’s character from The Predator, the entire story soon became public. Fox insisted it was “not aware” of Streigel’s history, while Black initially defended Striegel, only to later release a statement that his friend had misled him as to the full circumstances of his conviction.
Black’s latest comments - made during a red carpet interview with the Associated Press on Thursday - reflect a noticeable change in tone, and suggest that the filmmaker is now feeling more regret over his decision to cast Striegel after the huge controversy that's built up around the issue.
“I made an error of judgment that is irresponsible. I’m not just a kid who can say, you know, we’re making movies in college, put your buddy in the movie. This is an adult decision with real responsibilities. And I didn't vet somebody. And it doesn’t matter that I was shocked at these emails, or that he misrepresented, my friends and I, oh my god. It doesn’t matter. I was the captain of that ship - it’s my job to make sure that those things don’t happen, you see? And I failed, and I may have caused - I did cause pain to people in the cast. That’s unacceptable. I take full responsibility. I’m very, deeply sorry. I mean, I think about this a lot. I hope I learn from this, because it really bothers me that this movie which could have been with these beautiful people and a beautiful night - all of this - has been overshadowed in some ways by a stupid decision that I made. I’m very sorry to anybody."
Notably, Black did not address Munn by name, despite the fact that she's the one who's been taking heat from some, following her decision to reveal Striegel’s past. Munn has said that she was “chastised” by 20th Century Fox after she decided to take action on Striegel’s casting, and has also said that she felt “isolated” from the rest of the cast since they initially remained silent on the issue even after the story became public. However, Munn’s very public refusal to back down from her decision has recently pushed her co-stars to issue formal statements on Striegel’s casting, such as Sterling K. Brown’s public response of support for Munn over Twitter this week.
Perhaps the most important event of this entire situation came on Thursday, when the formerly anonymous survivor of Striegel's sexual abuse published a statement in The LA Times thanking Munn for speaking out against her abuser. Some are now wondering if this situation concerning Stiegel will impact The Predator at the box office. While that's probably doubtful, Black might just be right above when he says The Predator will be overshadowed by his decision to cast Striegel. What is being dubbed a fun but flawed movie by film critics may likely be remembered best for the casting controversy more than anything else. Though many were looking forward to Black’s take on the Predator franchise, it appears as though his film’s reputation might just be scarred for good.
Source: Associated Press